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Candidates square off in debate

Katie McCarty | Tuesday, February 5, 2013

In anticipation for Wednesday’s election, candidates for student body president and vice president gathered in LaFortune Student Center last night to debate the issues and promote their platforms.

In contrast to last year, in which only one ticket ran, six tickets are running this year. The candidates’ platform objectives range from getting student government technologically up-to-date to fostering a greater relationship with the South Bend community.

A common thread uniting most of the platforms was the improvement of communication between student government and the student body. Several candidates advocated online forums, meetings with students, or town-hall meetings to better hear what students want from their government.

“Communication is our core issue,” presidential candidate Dominic Romeo said. “There is a communication gap between the government and students, and we would like to change that.”

Romeo and his running mate Phillip Hootsmans, both juniors, have focused their campaign on equality and inclusion on campus. They want to create a welcoming atmosphere on campus, whether someone is a minority, international or a member of the LGBTQ community.

Sophomore running mates Bill Christy and Patrick Roemer advocated greater communication in the dorms, as well as reform of Du Lac and the Office of Residence Life and Housing in various areas.

“We want to have a two-on-two meeting with every dorm’s president and vice president every two months to address each dorm’s different needs,” Christy said. “We also plan to attend hall council meetings across campus.”

Juniors Alex Coccia and Nancy Joyce have built their platform upon student advocacy. They plan on creating a monthly town hall forum where students and administrators can converse about important issues across campus.

 “We want to submit several issues to The Observer every month, and students can text in a vote about what issue they would like to see addressed in the town hall meeting,” Coccia said.

Included in the platform of junior Michael Masi and sophomore Timothy Scanlan is a social justice form, which would link Notre Dame students to administrators and student from other universities to promote social justice. Masi and Scanlan also want to create a mobile app for smartphones.

“The mobile app will be all-encompassing,” Masi said. “It will include residence life and housing, meal plans, and other things relevant to a Notre Dame student.”

The platform of freshmen Austin O’Brien and Nick Boggess is centered upon improving Notre Dame’s relationship with South Bend, as well as making South Bend more a college town.

“We believe student life is not limited to campus,” O’Brien said. “We want to create a council to work directly with the mayor to clarify what students expect from South Bend. Students should be able to express themselves off-campus.”

Conveying the common sentiment of the night’s debate, Coccia said the key to improving student government’s efficacy is to close the gap between the representatives and the represented.

 “It’s all about bringing student government down from the second floor of LaFortune and engaging students,” Coccia said.

The one ticket not to focus on enhancing communication, Zahm freshmen Kevin Salat and Paul Mascarenhas are more focused on bridging the physical gap between Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s.

“We advocate improving the Stadium so that Notre Dame will make approximately two to three million dollars more per home game,” Salat said. “This money would go towards building a monorail from Saint Mary’s directly to Zahm on Friday and Saturday nights.”